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Chapter Seventeen
YOGA AND ALCHEMY

TUNGPO had said: "No one who does not achieve control of
his mind can ever understand God." Salvation, or the knowledge
of buddhahood, begins with mental self-discipline. Before one can
achieve peace of mind (which in Buddhist philosophy is salvation it-
self), one must conquer one's own emotions of fear, anger, worry, and
the like. During his Huangchow period Tungpo began to study
Buddhist and Taoist philosophy, and this coloured his thinking and
|vriting afterwards. He delved into the mysteries of the soul. He asked
Mmself, how does man achieve peace of mind? Here were Indian yoga
and Taoist mysticism which afford a definite, specific technique for
mental control, with promises of emotional stability and improved
physical health, and, even though only a remote probability, the dis-
covery of the elixir of immortality. Of spiritual immortality Su had
no doubt, but what abo^t physical immortality? He grew deeply
interested in the quest for chang sheng, or immortal life. Physical and
spiritual immortality could not be distinguished from one another
because the body was a carcass anyway, however he looked at it. If
riie mind were properly cultivated, in time it would leave this tem-
porary carcass behind and soar aloft into the spiritual spheres. Besides,
"the promise of bodily immortality included at least one practical and
attainable objective, the delay of old age and the prolongation of the
span of life.

The so-called art of prolonging one's life included a good many
factors and aims, elements of yoga and of Buddhist, Taoist, and Chinese
medical traditions. Its purpose was both physical and mental. Physic-
ally it aimed to achieve a glow of physical health, the strengthening
of one's constitution and vitality and consequent disappearance of long-
standing ailments; mentally it aimed at establishing stability of mind
and emotions and release of psychic energies. Combined with a simple
way of living and with the help of certain Chinese medicines, it aimed
_at rejuvenation and enjoyment of a long life, which imperceptibly
merged, in Taoist conceptions, with the art of achieving immortality.
Briefly, this art is called in Chinese the art of "conserving life" (ycmg
sheng}, and again, "manufacturing the pill" of immortality (lien tan).
The "pill" sought was both external and internal; the "internal pill"
was something to be developed somewhere below the navel by Taoist
practice, while the "external pill" was some kind of an elixir which the
Chinese alchemists were searching for and which, once found and
taken into the body, was to assure bodily ascent to heaven, probably

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